City of Cedar Rapids pushing forward on flood risk project - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

City of Cedar Rapids pushing forward on flood risk project


Sue Olson remembers all too well the horrors of June 2008.

"Total devastation inside, exhibits destroyed, artifacts destroyed, walls taken out.  Those were very low days," she said.

Olson serves as chairman of the board of directors at the National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library.

The museum made headlines when the board took matters into its own hands and hired a company to physically move the building 3 feet above 2008's flood level.

Wednesday, officials opened the building to the media for its first tour.  Officials are rebuilding and expanding the museum to house three times the space it did before the floods.

"The building allows us to do the kinds of programing that really help interpret what the museum is all about," Olson said.

The rest of the surrounding Czech Village, however, is much more weary of the future.

City officials are trying to figure out how to secure funding to protect the west side of the Cedar River, which includes the Czech Village, from a future flooding event similar to that of 2008.

"We're part of a story in the Czech ethnic neighborhood, and that neighborhood needs to be protected as well," Olson said.

Meanwhile, across the river from the museum, people in Cedar Rapids got their first look Wednesday afternoon at what flood protection would look like on the river's east side.

The Army Corps of Engineers presented a more than 3 mile system of walls and levees that would keep the east side dry should a 2008-like disaster hit again.

The federal government will support 65 percent of the more than $100 million project.

The city hasn't yet figured out exactly how it will fund its end of the project.  In May, voters said no to a local option sales tax which would have helped fund the flood protection system on both sides of the river.

Still, city leaders continue to push forward.

"Everybody knows, we get something that's over the existing walls right now, there's a lot of damage that goes on," said Dave Scanlan, the city's project engineer.

A group of people in Cedar Rapids are pushing to put the local option sales tax back on the ballot.

Many would like to see some more security, for an area devastated in 2008.

"We're west side and east side together, and no part of the community prospers unless we all prosper," Olson said.

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